Salty Saturday - Isle of Youth June 2016

By Nik Mathiesen 09/17/2016
 

My 3rd trip to this crazy destination and possibly my last. 6 days travel for 6 days fishing, is it worth it? Yes it is, but you have to love airports and planes. All the the international flights are fine, it is what it is at the end of the day, but surviving sitting in the domestic airport in Havana for 8 hours waiting for the plane driver to show up and getting shoved into an old Russian plane that WILL fall out of the sky very soon, thats where I'm challenged.

Plane didn't crash this time so we went tarpon fishing again! The week before us was completely blown out captain of our mothership Perola informed us. Our forecast was for sunshine and flat water everyday, bugger! I was looking for a challenge. The guides are fantastic, the food is fantastic, the accommodation is amazing, so what can possibly go wrong? Nothing actually and we had the trip of a lifetime.

Not tarpon fishing like last time I was there, but a solid run of 20-60lb fish which is big enough if you ask me. Normally in cuban waters the bonefish are smallish, around 3-5lbs, but we had a great run of bigger fish. Michael Somerville topped it off with an amazing 72cm bone which is unheard of in Cuba. We had an "almost shot" on 2 big permit. Well, that means we saw them, they saw us and swam away. But fly fishing in Cuba is so much more that the usual tarpon, bonefish and permit.

The first time you get there thats obviously what you fish for, but there are so many other species if you are keen to look around a bit. We fished a full day around the coral reef which held hundreds of species of weird and wonderful looking fish. We were sight-casting to huge parrot fish, all orange/green things in the 20lbs range, but no takes. They were chewing barnacles of the rocks with their big tails out of he water. I was lucky to nail a big triggerfish, the first one ever caught there according to both guides and captain. Finally I can call myself a pioneer, something I have been dreaming of for years and years.

So many pioneers in the world of fly-fishing and here is my shot:) I would have liked my triggerfish to be super colourful, but unfortunately it was "mostly grey" Just of the reef on the endless sandflats we had a myriad of speedsters hunting at full speed. Lots of different trevally species, and big nasty barracuda's all a great alternative from the "poling the flats" style fishing that everyone does. This was probably the highlight for me on the trip fishing wise anyway. Other inteesting highlights include the find of 20million dollars worth of cocaine and we had to rescue 4 drowning spanish sailers, but thats non-fishing related, so I'll save that if I want to impress someone else.